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Russian court denies Pussy Riot's Alekhina parole

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Photo -   FILE - In this Monday Oct. 1, 2012 file photo, feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Maria Alekhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia. Alekhina went on hunger strike Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in protest at not being allowed to attend her own parole hearing in Perm province. In letters dated Monday and posted online by the group's supporters, McCartney asks for parole to be granted to Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, currently serving two-year sentences for an impromptu protest in Moscow's main cathedral. The judge in Mordovia province to whom the Beatles frontman Paul McCartney addressed two letters in Pussy Riot support, denied Tolokonnikova parole last month. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev, file)
FILE - In this Monday Oct. 1, 2012 file photo, feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Maria Alekhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia. Alekhina went on hunger strike Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in protest at not being allowed to attend her own parole hearing in Perm province. In letters dated Monday and posted online by the group's supporters, McCartney asks for parole to be granted to Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, currently serving two-year sentences for an impromptu protest in Moscow's main cathedral. The judge in Mordovia province to whom the Beatles frontman Paul McCartney addressed two letters in Pussy Riot support, denied Tolokonnikova parole last month. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev, file)
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MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court denied parole on Thursday to a member of the Pussy Riot punk group.

The ruling came despite letters that singers Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel and Patti Smith have sent, urging Russia's courts to free Maria Alekhina and the other Pussy Riot still in prison, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

In its ruling on Thursday, a court in Perm province accepted a claim by prosecutors that Alekhina had systematically disobeyed prison authorities and failed to repent for her crime, Russian media reported.

Alekhina went on a hunger strike Wednesday after being barred from the hearing, even though the court is across the street from the prison colony where she is serving her sentence for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred." She also ordered her defense not to participate.

Band members Alekhina, Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich gained worldwide notoriety last year when a Moscow court jailed them for two years for conducting a punk protest in Moscow's main cathedral.

Samtusevich was later released on appeal.

A lawyer for Alekhina said the artist would appeal Thursday's ruling.

The parole decision came despite two letters dated Monday by McCartney, the former Beatles' star, asking for both jailed Pussy Riot members to be released.

McCartney mailed the letters to a court n Mordovia that had denied Tolokonnikova parole last month, and they were posted on online by Pussy Riot supporters. In them, McCartney asks for parole to be granted to Alekhina and Tolokonnikova.

The singer wrote that he was making the request "in a spirit of friendship for my many Russian acquaintances who, like me, believe in treating people — all people, with compassion and kindness."

Alekhina's lawers also had copies of the support letters that Gabriel and Smith had written.

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